Boeing to Shut California Plant 3 Months Earlier Than expected

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

Boeing Co. announced plans to stop production of C-17 cargo jets at the company’s sprawling Long Beach, Calif., plant three months earlier than it previously anticipated.

The aerospace giant said Monday it will shutter the 1.1-million-square-foot facility in mid-2015 because of “current market trends and the timing of expected orders.” The plane-maker had initially said that production would come to an end in late 2015.

The company said it expects to record $50 million in accounting charges in the first quarter as a result of Monday’s announcement.

Boeing said about 2,200 employees support the C-17 Globemaster III program in California. The company already began workforce reductions this year and plans to continue the cuts through closure.

The C-17 Globemaster III is a massive, four-engine jet that can haul 60-ton tanks, troops and medical gear across continents and land on short runways.

The Air Force awarded the contract for the C-17 in 1981, as the United States faced potential military threats that required massive cargo lifts.

Design work soon followed, and the first C-17 to fly — known as T-1 — took off in 1991.

Boeing announced plans to close the plant in September, just a week after it delivered its 223rd and final C-17 to the Air Force. The company still has a few foreign orders to fill.

The plant is one of the last vestiges of an era in which aviation and aerospace helped build Southern California’s middle class, and it was a major employer in Long Beach for decades.

There are no plans to move a new production program to the plant.

Boeing has said some workers may be moved to other jobs inside the company, but many will have to enter a still-tough job market, with unemployment at 8.7 percent in Los Angeles County.